Vermont is gay about marriage equality!

April 7, 2009

Four days ago, Iowa became the third state in the union to grant the rights of full same-sex marriage (since California doesn’t count because the will of the people was squashed by religous assholes). Well now just 4 days later, Vermont has become the fourth state in the union to grant the rights of full same-sex marriage. It’s also the first state to grant full same-sex marriage through the legislative process. So Vermont joins Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.

Further, the D.C. Council has voted to recognize gay marriages performed in other states on the same day that Vermont became the fourth state to legalize same-sex unions.

Domestic partnerships already are legal in the nation’s capital, and gay couples married in other states are recognized as domestic partners when they move the city. But today’s legislation, billed as an important milestone in gay rights, explicitly recognizes them as married couples.



Why Ben Stein won’t be speaking at UVM

February 2, 2009

Yesterday I posted that Ben Stein will not be the commencement speaking at the University of Vermont as originally planned along with an email exchange between University’s President Fogel and Richard Dawkins. Well, 1 of my readers sent me a link to a site with President Fogel’s detailed responses to questions concerning this controversy. I for one am very happy with his responses and I would like to thank UVM President Fogel for his candor and for standing up for the academic community. Clearly, he respects science and understands how ignorant Ben Stein is with regards to science. And I even get the sense that he’s actually a sincere fan of Richard Dawkins. So my opinion is that the University of Vermont is fortunate to have Fogel respresenting their interests.

Ben Stein backs out of UVM commencement address

February 1, 2009

I blogged a few days ago about Ben Stein being chosen as the commencement speaker at the University of Vermont. Well, according to President Fogel’s response letter to Richard Dawkins, Stein will neither be receiving an honorary degree nor be speaking at the school’s commencement. Here’s the exchange, beginning with President Fogel’s response to Dawkins:

Dear Professor Dawkins,

As one who has been deeply instructed by your work and who applauds your scientific leadership, I was honored to find a personal email from you in my inbox, but very sorry indeed that the occasion was the decision to invite Ben Stein to be a Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. Although we have recently learned that Mr. Stein will be unable to receive the honorary degree here or to serve as Commencement speaker, please know that it was our expectation that his remarks would address the global economic crisis and that he would speak from his widely acknowledged area of expertise on the economy. We regret that he will be unable to do so.

With thanks again for writing, with admiration, and with every good wish–Daniel Mark Fogel, President, The University of Vermont

And here’s Dawkins’ response to that response:

Dear President Fogel

Thank you very much indeed for your extremely gracious letter.

I cannot disguise my gladness that Ben Stein will not be going to Vermont. Thank you very much for letting me know. I wish you, and your great university all good fortune. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

With my very best wishes, and thanks again for your letter

Yours sincerely

Richard Dawkins


News From Around The Blogosphere 01.30.09

January 31, 2009

atheist-bus-battling-buses-picadilly2Atheist Bus Campaign spreads to Brazil

The Brazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics launched the first phase of the campaign in the country, with eight slogans that we want to display on buses in the city of São Paulo. The phrases explain what atheists think, and seek to launch a first step towards the recognition of skeptical people as full and worthy citizen, with its deserved place in society. One of the highlights is the phrase that calls for an effective secular state, which ATEA believes should be a priority for citizens of all beliefs and disbelief.

And you can check out what the 8 slogans are by clicking the link above.

And the bus ads in Italy are back as well – Atheists–we’re everywhere you want to be.The new ad reads:

The Good News Is There Are Millions of Atheists In Italy; The Excellent News Is They Believe In Freedom Of Expression.”

Most/Least religious states in the U.S. – No surprise I’m in one of the better ones.

Creationist Ben Stein to deliver commencement address at University of Vermont – This is the guy who said:

When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.”

ACLU suing public school because administrators harassed a woman they accused of being a witch – This is still the 21st century, right?

California court of appeals upheld the expulsion of two juniors from California Lutheran High School for “conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians” – No seriously, what century is this?

How to fail Metaphysics at UHawaii – Links to a PDF disclaimer written by the professor of the class.


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyDinosaur Fossils Fit Well Into Tree Of Life – “A recent study by researchers at the University of Bath and London’s Natural History Museum has found that scientists’ knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs is remarkably complete.

Evolutionary biologists use two ways to study the evolution of prehistoric plants and animals: firstly they use radioactive dating techniques to put fossils in chronological order according to the age of the rocks in which they are found (stratigraphy); secondly they observe and classify the characteristics of fossilised remains according to their relatedness (morphology).”

Robots To Clean Your Kitchen And Play Hockey? – A news story about robots–you know you can’t resist.

New Stem Cell-like Functions In Plants Found – “Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants—a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells—researchers at New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found. The findings, which suggest that some roles of stem cells in organ regeneration may be shared by other types of cells, are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.3.08

September 4, 2008

New law says all Texas public schools must offer an elective course in the Christian bible – This unconstitutional bill was authored by Warren Chisum. Of course I have no problem teaching The Bible as literature in public schools. I was taught The Bible as literature in high school as part of an elective course I greatly enjoyed. But only an fool or a liar would deny this opens the door for inevitable Christian prosylatizing. It’s worth noting that the class I took where we studied The Bible, we also studied The Bhagavad Gita, The Rig-Veda, and Antigone, among other mythologies. We even had an assignment where we got to write our own creation story. This law requires only that The Bible of Judeo-Christianity be taught.

Funny, hyperbolic, and late-arriving email to PZ Myers criticizing him over Crackergate:

“Professor Myers: Your intentional desecration of the Eucharist is the most dispicable act that i have ever witnessed or learned of in my 70 years. You act is far more deplorable than Hitlers’ Holocaust or the terriorists on 9-11 . You sure showed those Catholics, huh ? Now why don’t you go after others such as the Muslims , or the Jews, perhaps the Mormans while you are at it. I am sure you can find something to desecrate along the way.

Shame on the University of Minnesota for allowing you on campus much less on staff . Their failure to act on your despicable act is a clear failure on their part and a horrible reflection on the administration at the U.O.M.

You will answer to a higher authority some day for your despicable desecration of the body of Christ, and your suffering will be for eternity and so will those that allowed you to do so.”

Wow! Clearly throwing a cracker in the garbage is worse that the Holocaust and 9/11 combined. Duh! And wasn’t I just talking about the “You wouldn’t have dared do this to Islam” gambit yesterday?

The Life Cycle of Every Religion on Earth – In cartoon form, of course. And check out the archives for more skeptical cartoons.

The Importance and Limitations of Peer-Review

Sam Harris responds to criticism of his Sarah Palin piece – Harris is the author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter To A Christian Nation.”

Sarah Palin speaking at her church–scary:

Cocktail Party Physics on the presidential candidates and science

Vermont fortune tellers free again to bilk people out of their money – The Vermont town of St. Johnsbury has lifted its decades long ban on fortune telling.

Anti-vaxxers deny yet another study that fails to support their ideology – They also continue to pretend that out of the medical organizations in the entire world only the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is researching this vaccines and autism. Of course, they have to keep promoting this ridiculous notion because grander conspiracy theories are harder to sell than just fingering one “corrupt” organization. And of course they never offer any theoretical mechanism in MMR vaccines that might trigger autism. It certainly can’t be Thimerosal, which is not present in MMR vaccines. Update: The study can be found here.

Religious Group Starves Toddler For Not Saying “Amen”


Tiny Helicopters Teach Themselves To Fly – “Stanford computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.”

Black-footed Ferrets Sired By Dead Males – “Two black-footed ferrets at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo have each given birth to a kit that was sired by males who died in 1999 and 2000. These endangered ferrets—part of a multi-institutional breeding and reintroduction program—were artificially inseminated in May with frozen semen from the two deceased males, each giving birth to a kit on June 20 and 21 respectively.”

Oldest Gecko Fossil Ever Found: Life-like Form – “Scientists from Oregon State University and the Natural History Museum in London have announced the discovery of the oldest known fossil of a gecko, with body parts that are forever preserved in life-like form after 100 million years of being entombed in amber.”